Home Music John Lennon History Getting Reworked, Says May Pang

May Pang was John Lennon‘s girlfriend during what’s knows as his “Lost Weekend”–18 months from 1973 through 1974. She’s since become a popular and motherly figure on the New York rock circuit, as well as a real mom.

At the New York Film Festival premiere last night of “LennonNYC” for PBS American Masters, Pang was once again in the same theater as Yoko Ono. In 1973, Ono sent Lennon to live with May, and they became lovers. Ono didn’t like Lennon’s attachment to her former aide, and then demanded he come home after “The Lost Weekend.”

Pang watched “LennonNYC” philosophically. Although Ono didn’t have editorial control, the film’s director — Michael Epstein–conceded that Lennon’s widow “was there” while he made the film.

The result is the most minimized version of John and May’s relationship. Several times during the film screening at Alice Tully Hall, Pang said, loudly enough, “These are all lies.”

She told me later: “Yoko sent Paul [McCartney] to California to come get John and bring him home. Paul didn’t know me, and Yoko had described me very badly. But when Paul and Linda [McCartney] arrived, we all hit it off. Paul and John recorded together for the last time. It’s a bootleg now. Paul never told John that Yoko had sent him. Afterwards, John told me, Paul doesn’t get it. I’m with you now.

Because of this Pang is rewriting the book she published several years ago, to set history right. “They made it seem like I never saw John again after he went back with Yoko. It’s not true, and there’s lots of evidence.”

Ono has already changed a lot of Lennon’s past. As I wrote years ago (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106198,00.html) Ono edited herself into Lennon’s videos and changed background vocals on songs.

Pang will be in New York on October 9th–Lennon’s 70th birthday–for the big free outdoor screening of “LennonNYC” at Central Park Summerstage for 5000 people. Ono will be in Iceland.

Also at last night’s after party at Robert restaurant high above 2 Columbus Circle, and very moved by it all: the very cool new Film Society chief Rose KuoSteve van Zandt with wife Maureen, doc maker Barbara Kopple, famed Lennon photographer Bob Gruen, Keith Richards manager Jane Rose, IndieWire reviewer Todd McCarthy, famed author Patricia Bosworth, New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman, Denise Rich (who gave a pre-screening dinner at her Fifth Avenue triplex) and legendary record mogul Clive Davis.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
29 replies to this post
  1. I think Yoko was/is a master manipulator. She was/is an extremely jealous woman. She was and is an extremely intelligent woman. I think she felt threatened most by John’s love of Paul McCartney(yes you read that right) than she was of May or Cynthia.

    I believe she knew that John and Paul were (are) musical soulmates and that bond was and is deeper than any physical love (the two may have shared?) and that bond transcends John’s death. Creating music and lyrics for LennonMcCartney was like them making love. Their songs are their babies, the proof and truth of their shared musical souls. Time and Beatle fans old, young, and new are witness to this fact.

    Yoko cannot change it so she attempts to manipulate the perception of the John and Yoko love story as: “The star cross love of the ages, more original than Adam and Eve, more strong and passionate than Samson and Delilah, more innocent and tragic than Romeo and Juliet. Certainly John’s murder is more tragic than a fictional story but I’m making a point here, not trying to disrespect his memory.

    Granted John cared for Yoko, loved her, and as his widow she has a right to tell their love story any way she wants. I just believe that her burnished version of “The Loved Never Dies…But Gets Bigger With Each Re-telling” is more myth than legend. That is just my opinion.

  2. I think that Yoko was/is a master manipulator. She was/is an extremely jealous woman. She was and is an extremely intelligent woman. I think she was threatened most by John’s love of Paul McCartney (yes you read that right) than she was of May or Cynthia. I believe she knew that John and Paul were(are)musical soulmates and that bond was and IS DEEPER than physical love(maybe shared?) and that bond TRANDSCENDS John’s death. Creating music and lyrics for LennonMcCartney was like making love. Their songs are the physical manifestation of their babies. She cannot change that fact no matter what she tries so she attempts to manifpulate perception of history.

  3. Personally I agree with so many of the comments written here. Of course Yoko knew who The Beatles were back in 60’s, you had to be dead not to have heard of them! Yoko and her ex-husband were just wanting to hit either Paul or John up for money to fund whatever avant-garde thing they were doing at the time. Remember, Yoko went after PAUL FIRST, when he didn’t ‘bite’, she stuck herself on to John…Being that Cynthia was a sweet woman, but nothing against her, she wasn’t too strong to hold onto John as he was sliding into more and more drugs, especially acid. John’s younger days were well screwed up from his Mum, to Aunt Mimi, etc. I think what Yoko did to Julian is a crying shame, cutting him OFF from seeing his father, cutting him OFF from any monetary help to the point that Julian was buying his own father’s ‘stuff’ through auctions…that’s just disgustingly COLD to me. To tell poor Julian that his mum cannot travel with him to NYC after John died? What kind of cold heart can do that? No one will ever forget that Cynthia was John’s FIRST LOVE and that they did have a child together, no matter how much Yoko wishes to erase these two people from John’s life. I think it’s extremely admiral that JULIAN has a heart of gold to even want to be in the same city as Yoko after what she put him through, let alone actually ‘come together’ for that photo shoot where it was Yoko, Julian, Sean and Cynthia…

    I cannot imagine how Cynthia felt walking into HER kitchen back then and seeing her husband with some wild haired Japanese woman in her bathrobe. Another woman would have grabbed Yoko by the hair and tossed biatch out of HER HOUSE …John was a lot of different things to a lot of people…but personally I thought that was the most chicken shit way of telling your wife you want out of a marriage…to NOT have the BALLS and decency to sit down and talk things over with Cynthia to reach some type of good agreement that would help his SON and so to be ex-wife is pretty freaking low down and dirty…..He surely didn’t handle that well at all….If Yoko was sending him on those stupid ‘directional journeys’ to Africa, or to wherever she commanded John to go, then how come she didn’t ‘see’ this murder coming? Tarot card readers, numerology, name it and she paid someone to do it…how come when the shoots rang out, she didn’t even turn to see who or where they were coming from but run into the courtyard in The Dakota and HID…there will be things no one will ever know, because she is in total control and that’s that…

    Unless one day, when Sean will be keeper of the ‘flame’ he wants the truth to be told…which I highly doubt…So I read these books (all of the books written about John) and toss in grains of salt and some doubt and some belief….I truly don’t believe that John was truly happy with Yoko…but didn’t have the balls to do a single thing about it….cos Yoko had his balls removed and she had them in her hands…..I think he was lonely upstairs in their apartment…listen to his songs on the last 2 albums….he was sounding bored…and his music always reflected what he felt at that moment in song….

    So we can surmise plenty in between every book we’ve all read about him, his life, his last days,etc…But all I want is the truth….just gimme some truth ….

    Sad to say ….we will never know that….

  4. After reading just about everything ever printed about The Beatles, and then when John became JohnandYoko. I have to agree with a lot of what was written here. Going back in time, remembering that Yoko claimed she ‘never heard of The Beatles’ before, yada yada..I have a really hard time with that one. I think the Dalai Lama knew they were, impossible for Yoko to deny she knew about them. I believe that Yoko pushed her way into John’s life, and John was all too happy to have someone ‘strong’ to take care of him in many ways, however, she was overly controlling, close to being a sociopath. Sociopaths like to target someone and then proceed to suck the life out them, even though they do under the guise of LOVE. That supposedly first night that John and Yoko took acid, this is just a theory..John took it and Yoko more than likely didn’t take it. Breaking down someone’s ego and getting into their mind and soul is not that hard to do, especially when the person who is targeted is in a weakened state of mind, ego blown out a bit, insecure, etc. I think Yoko is very cunning and armed with any internal strife that John had gone through or was going through, she was able to get inside his head and he allowed her to lead him around. I do believe that he was happy with May Pang and again, it was Yoko pulling the strings. She got pregnant with Sean, and although her due date was close to John’s birthday, she had them induce labour so he can be born on October 9th. I don’t believe that while they lived in the Dakota they were all that happy, well John anyway. Yoko spent hours upon hours in Studio One running ‘the family business’ and John remained upstairs doign whatever to keep himself occupied. I disliked how Cynthia was treated before he passed and afterwards as well. I know that John can be cruel verbally at times, but what he or Yoko did to both Cynthia, Julian and John’s family in England was totally mean! It’s not so odd for a really good controlling person who also tends to be a sociopath to worm their way into someone’s life and completely take it over. John was in love with Yoko, the rest of the world wasn’t. After a while, however, I believe that John was just wanting a regular life with his child and his wife, and she wasn’t really ‘there’ for him when he ‘became a recluse in The Dakota’. Listen to the words to “I’m Losing You” by John, he always was able to express what he was feeling in his music. I believe that Fred Seaman was a wee bit overly scary in his own way about wanting to be a bit too much like John, but again I do believe that John’s diaries were ‘stolen back’ by Yoko. You cannot put anything past a sociopath, as they would stop at nothing to get whatever it is that they want.

    It’s a tragic ending to John’s life, personally I would have liked it better for him to just ‘fade away’ than to be taken out like he was. I feel sad for Yoko at that moment in time, standing right next to him, etc. just as I feel that badly when Mrs Kennedy was sitting next to her husband when he had his brains blown out that day in Dallas.

    We can surmise the truth, however, again I agree with a lot of what is written here, as long as Yoko is around, the truth will never be known. I think Julian is amazing to embrace his ‘younger brother’ Sean, knowing that Sean ‘is the chosen one’ who has access to everything that John owned…his guitars, his clothes (I’m sure), having seen a photo of Sean wearing John’s ‘ELVIS” pin at some function. It’s a sad thing for Julian to have to purchase items that were owned by his own father.

    As the expression goes: “What goes around, comes around” there is Karma whether it’s INSTANT or it takes some time…

    Peace out peeps!

  5. John Lennon was an activist! That’s all anyone cares about these days!

    Crying for John Lennon

    by Hargo

    In the night between the screams

    And gunfights,

    I hear a sound, I hear a word

    That feels right.

    It speaks of joy and of love as Man’s right.

    With this hate all around it seems out of sight.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    I’m crying for his dream.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    And for what might have been.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    And for this world I see.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    For we’ve forgotten peace.

    Well we tried, we say we tried

    In vain it seems,

    To change the world and everyone

    But ourselves you see.

    Tell me why are we surprised

    At the state of things?

    When it’s time to do it

    We just shut out the light.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    I’m crying for his dream.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    And for what might have been.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    And for this world I see.

    I’m crying for John Lennon

    For we’ve forgotten peace.

    How are we gonna see

    The way out,

    When it seems that we

    Don’t believe there’s a way out?

    Gotta try something

    Try anything to get there somehow.

    It’s not a dream…

    It’s not a dream.

    Take a walk on this road

    With me now.

    All your things, and your pride

    Set ‘em down.

    Where we’ll go, don’t you know

    It doesn’t matter now.

    Now let’s come together

    Come on give peace a chance!

    I’m trying for John Lennon

    I’m trying for his dream.

    I’m trying for John Lennon
    And for what might have been.
    I’m trying for John Lennon
    And for this world I see.
    I’m trying for John Lennon
    To give this world some peace.
    Crying for John Lennon
    Crying for John Lennon

  6. For years I thought well there must be something special between John and Yoko that we didn’t see. However after a lot of research I don’t believe there was. First of all most of what is printed that not only came from john and Yoko themselves was not always truth. John stood up for women’s rights ect…and yet every woman he has been with has said he abused them verbally and sometimes physically. If you watch the documentary ” The real John Lennon” you will see that his own family said just a week before his murder he had rang them and said he had enough and was ” coming home”. Do I think he loved Yoko? In an unhealthy way yes. I think John had a classic Mommy syndrome and Yoko fit the bill.

    Do I think he loved May as well as Cynthia yes. I believe May was probably the most healthy relationship he had. I have no problem with Yoko putting John out there as far as products and ” keeping his legacy alive” no more than I do Bob Marleys family or Jerry Garcia’s ect.. She is his wife had has every right to do that. She doesn’t have a right to edit history and IF she was secure in their love she wouldn’t have to edit anyone out. She clearly isn’t secure enough in it.

    What speaks VOLUMES for me is while I don’t think she is ” the dragon lady” for doing these things, I DO think she is vile for other things she has done. Johns family, INCLUDING his own sisters were not invited to take place in whatever Yoko held for a “funeral”. His own son who was only 17 at the time was told he MUST come alone or he couldn’t come because as Yoko told Cynthia ” There is no need for you to be here after all it isn’t like we were old school mates”. His family does NOT know where his ashes are. His son Julian has had to BUY personal belonging of his fathers from auctions and we are not talking about Beatles things only. He has had to buy post cards his father sent to HIM and some how landed back in the hands of Yoko and shes auctioned them off. That’s despicable. She was a master manipulator.

  7. Yoko, I mean Dave, her “Give Peace a Chance” mantra doesn’t have much credibility when she slams Julian and Cynthia and May. Peace is not a theory. It is how you live and interact with those in your life. whether you want them there or not. Treating those three as non-entities is pathetic and hypocritical.

  8. And Yoko keeps promoting John’s great music and art not for money,(she doesn’t need the money amyway,John was a millionaire and in addition she made her own money as she still does from her work as an artist)she does this because she still loves him deeply,and she wants him to be remembered for the truly great music artist and art artist he was who was killed for no rational reason at only age 40!

  9. And by the way,in Ray Coleman’s updated 1992 version of his excellent book,Lennon, he says that Fred Seaman pled guilty to not only stealing John’s personal private diaries from his home soon after he was tragically,cruelly,insanely shot and killed,but some cash and stereo equipment to,that is so horrible and disgusting! I would never listen to *anything* he says!

  10. Paul McCartney had many times in the 80’s claimed (to the derision of many) that he had a hand in starting the John and Yoko reunion process. Recently, Yoko gave an account which tallies precisely with what he had said which is:
    After he got his US Visa (which he had to wait for after his early 70’s arrests), Paul went to the States in 74 supporting ‘Band on the Run’ which was doing great business. He called in on Yoko in New York to talk, he and Linda not having seen her since the last days of The Beatles and they talked for hours (until it got dark). He heard the whole story of what had happened with John.
    He had actually exited the door when he left Linda in the hallway and came back in for a final word with Yoko during which he said to her that he didn’t think she and John were over and wondered what she would need from John to take him back.
    What he heard he then relayed to John after he dropped into Record Plant West in LA a few nights later, initially only having a jam in the studio with John, Stevie Wonder and others but visiting, next morning, the communal Beverley Hills house John had rented for all those working on an album with him. He waited around playing piano for John to get up then had a private word about Yoko with him.
    John and Yoko were later very grateful for this but Lennon was left feeling that he didnt understand why Paul would do it, as it would prevent what he seemed to want, which was a reunion with John.
    Nevertheless Paul did it and is credited by Yoko as having triggered a reconciliation process which resulted, the same year, in John being back in the Dakota.
    It was because of this that Paul felt free to call in on John on a regular basis and the two became close again for years until John snapped at Paul for calling round with his guitar one day without calling first (during his househusband period looking after Sean).
    Thereafter the two talked on the phone but didn’t meet up again.

    The myth that persists includes various parties’ wanting to poo-poo that there was and always had been a ‘family’ relationship between John, Paul, Yoko, Linda and the rest of the Beatles. Family relationships include sniping, bitching, outright anger and total unconditional love. What Paul did for John and Yoko was to make them happy because he knew they belonged together.

    What Paul and Yoko do with the commercial value John’s memory varies and is often exploitative for their personal gain. It doesn’t make them bad people.

    I do think it’s wrong for Yoko to edit out people though.
    Paul has done it too with his ex-Wings people and others but is not so severe in refusing to acknowledge their past parts in his life.

    Both Yoko and Paul were the two primary scapegoats for The Beatles’ break-up. I accept that they were very damaged by the hate that ensued. You can STILL see it in their faces during interviews.
    What they do about editing things is, I feel, a reaction to this. They always get it wrong too. It’s transparent but it’s emotional not evil.

  11. Why should his personal diaries be published? Let the man have some privacy. They were PERSONAL for a reason. What a bunch of vultures his “fans” turned out to be.

  12. It seems to me that anyone who doesn’t understand that Yoko Ono is the worst thing that ever happened to John Lennon isn’t paying attention. Using John’s money she has become exceptionally wealthy and powerful, and she is vindictive towards anyone who have a story to tell that contrasts with the happy myth of John & Yoko. Thus the efforts to excoriate May Pang, Fred Seaman and others.

    Someday, after Yoko dies, I hope John’s personal diaries will finally be published. Then the world will know the truth.

  13. Fred Seaman seems a really decent guy in the interviews I have seen
    him do on TV. John entrusted him with his diaries and then Yoko
    accused him of stealing them after John died. Has this woman got
    a heart?
    I have also seen TV interviews with Tony Bramwell and know of his
    connection with the Beatles. He seems a decent guy too.
    It is a pity that Yoko brainwashed John into returning home to her.
    If John had stayed with May, it is highly likely the Beatles would have reformed. Yoko didnt want the Beatles to reform and again
    manipulated John. May helped John and Paul to mend fences. Yoko pulled them down again after John left May. What does this tell you about Yoko?

  14. Paul; maybe if you did a google search you’d see that Yoko and her daughter Kyoko did eventually get back in touch when Kyoko had a daughter herself, after John’s murder.

    I love Yoko’s singing myself. But then I’m an “alternative rock” type person.

    I’ll bet most of you haven’t even seen this film.

    Fred Seaman wrote such a hate filled screed I’d actually be afraid to be alone in a room with him.

    Tony’s book was also sad in that regard. He was nice enough when we spoke. But his hatred for Yoko was so over the top, I felt he protested too much.

  15. It does not matter if Yoko hand picked May or not. Yoko did not realize how big their relationship was going to be. He fell in love with May. Yoko has no one to blame but herself. May did nothing wrong.

    A lot of people like to bash her. The truth is May went on with her life. Got married and had children. So she still holds a candle for John Lennon. Who the hell would not? If people were telling lies about you or fabricating stories wouldn’t you like to set the record straight to?

    Whatever happened to Yoko Ono’s first born? The daughter she NEVER talks about. It is all about John, Sean and how much money she can still make off of John Lennon. Give me a break. Has anyone ever heard her sing? She sounds like a cat in heat.

    I think I would have a lot more respect for her if she were truthful.
    Stop trying to change history Yoko! It is what it is.

  16. John’s Beatles’ legacy has been under assault since December 8th 1980, principally by the two people who professed to know/love him best. Unfortunately, Yoko and Paul, both being agenda-driven, ego-maniacal control freaks, have managed to diminish John’s stature as both an artist and a man.

  17. Since Yoko as wife arranged May as mistress,Yoko can present her anyway she wants to whether we agree with it or not. John did not go out and hand pick May. Yoko arranged the whole thing and John went along with it.

    I think all three women exploited John and do not agree with any of them constantly trying to prove their worth to the world. Nobody needs to write two or three books to tell the same tired stories over and over again.

    But she seems hell bent on wasting her time doing it.

  18. So Yoko’s jealousy of May (and Cynthia) continues to rear its ugly head. Are we surprised at all? What a shame not only that it appears we are in for nothing more than another faux-documentary sanitized by Yoko Ono with the filmmaker sacrificing not only accuracy but integrity, sweeping facts and key details under the proverbial carpet in exchange for the favor of the keeper of the estate, but also that another documentarian seems to have fallen into the bitter chasm of those before him: tell the story Yoko’s way, or not at all. The degree and the lengths of these attempts to remove May Pang not just from this film, but from John Lennon’s life story in general is actually quite a huge compliment to May: If May hadn’t been so significant and such an inspiration to, and so beloved by, John Lennon, Yoko wouldn’t give her a second thought. It’s ironic that the man who sang ‘All I Want is the Truth’ left a widow armed with the weaponry to do her best to ensure that the public is not given it.

  19. Since Yoko controls most of the film/video footage and photos taken of John, as well as music recorded by him in the 1970s she has ‘defacto’ control of how the story is presented to the public. I’m not surprised that this new documentary is yet another sugarcoated version of Lennon’s life with Ono. What is surprising is that ‘American Masters’, a prestigious and (at least partially) publicly-funded PBS series that in the past has produced brilliant, warts-and-all portraits of iconic artists such as Woody Guthrie, has now become a willing accomplice in Ono’s obsessive attempt to rewrite history. It represents a new low for PBS, which once stood for honest, independent journalism.

    -Fred Seaman

    PS: For the record, I was John’s personal assistant in 1979-80 and author of THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN LENNON/ A PERSONAL MEMOIR.

  20. How many times is May going to rewrite her book?

    In Loving John it was all beatings and drunken rages.

    In Instematic Karma it was all “look how happy he is”

    Now she is going to RE WRITE again? What is she pushing this time?

    And how many different versions of this story will she write? Every time she does this she loses credibility. Each time it is a different story. It’s almost like she is obsessed with the world knowing she was there. WE KNOW ALREADY. We don’t care anymore. She is inflating her place in Lennon history. She was a girlfriend, nothing more. Not a wife, and 18 months is really not a very long time.

  21. Right on May. Too bad the record has to be set straight and too bad people have to change truth and history. I’m proud of you May and glad your doing what needs to and must be done. Here’s a hug to help you get you through the “night”. Eddie

  22. This isn’t Yoko’s first foray into revisionist history — she’s frequently omitted the fact that John was married to Cynthia Lennon Twist prior to her getting her hooks into him — as well as the fact that the union produced their son, Julian.

    Because John made the mistake of leaving his entire estate to Yoko, it was up to her as to whether or not Julian inherited anything from his late father’s estate. Yoko, in an attempt to keep this out of the courts, has given Julian money from the estate in recent years.

    I don’t want to “Yoko-bash.” After all, this woman lived through watching her husband gunned down right before her eyes, outside of their home, where their little son slept.

    But when it comes to revisionist history Yoko Ono is a champ. The problem is that because she’s so bad at it, her efforts are as transparent as glass.

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